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What if Caleb Williams refuses to play for the Cardinals?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze the Cardinals’ move to release DeAndre Hopkins on Friday and discuss why they believe this is another indication Arizona isn’t putting its “best foot forward” next year.

The Cardinals are on track to be among one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. Their handling of the cap consequences of the decision to release receiver DeAndre Hopkins shows they’re willing to embrace the suck.

So if the Cardinals (or the Texans, whose first-round pick the Cardinals own) end up earning the first overall pick in the draft, the Cardinals could be inclined to move on from quarterback Kyler Murray and select USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

But what if Williams isn’t interested in playing for the Cardinals?

The franchise has made more than a few headlines in recent months, from their Bart Simpson-style NFLPA report card to the arbitration claim filed by former executive Terry McDonough to the shameful response to it to the Jonathan Gannon tampering fiasco to the general sense of malaise around the team, new uniforms or not.

From Williams’s perspective, he’s making pretty good NIL money at USC. He doesn’t have to declare for the draft in 2024. And he could make it clear to the Cardinals that he just won’t do it if they’re going to be the team in position to pick him.

He also could simply refuse to play for them, living off his NIL money for a year and re-entering the draft.

Regardless, the new reality of the NCAA gives high-end players power unlike any they have ever had. Williams could be the first one to use that power, and the Cardinals could be the first team that power is used against.